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Identifying Performance Problems

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Identifying Performance Problems

In an ideal case scenario, employees clearly understand their job responsibilities and perform to the expectations of their managers, colleagues and employers. However, at times, performance problems do crop up. If you let these problems continue, they lead to the domino effect, making the situation increasingly complex for you to deal with in future.

Let’s look at a few reasons for performance problems:

Performance problems do occur for many reasons. Some problems are related to employees’ attitudes or motivational levels, some to their workplace environment, some to lack of resources and others to their knowledge levels.

Attitudinal or motivational issues refer to a situation where employees are knowledgeable but consistently show tardiness at work. The work they produce is not at par with established standards. Besides, they frequently abstain from work or try to abstain from work responsibilities by giving lame excuses.

Problems relating to the workplace environment are subtle but have a profound impact on employee performance. Sexual harassment, workplace bullying, coercion and favoritism by the boss are some leading factors affecting employee performance.

Lack of training on using resources also adversely impacts employee performance. In this situation, employees are knowledgeable and have the right attitude but they cannot perform well because they do not have the right information or training on using resources such as new technologies, equipment, etc.

When employees do not have the requisite knowledge about their job responsibilities, they cannot perform well.

Steps to Identify Performance Problems:

The first step in identifying performance problems is to devise parameters for performance. When you know what is expected of your employees, you can determine whether they are able to reach their targets or not. When you set parameters for a desirable behavior or performance, keep in view how poor performance or undesirable behavior affects the organization, its employees and customers. Work with team leaders or managers and gather inputs from them. This will enable you to have a clear view of desirable behavior and you will be in a better position to analyze your employees’ performance.

While analyzing performance, don’t focus on people issues, but on their performance. A subjective view may lead to unnecessary confrontations between you and your employee.

Identifying performance problems early on helps both you and your employee reach an amicable solution. The onus is on you to lead the process and come up with a solution for positive development, which benefits both the employee and the organization. Remember, the purpose of this exercise is to build confidence in the employee so that he or she can resolve the problem and be a valued employee.

Do share your thoughts on the same.

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  • Michael J. Spangle

    Not having worked in a Management capacity, my knowledge on this subject is, for the most part, second hand. In the Nuclear industry the preferred method of identifying performance shortfalls is by regular feild observations by Line Management. Then the shortfalls are examined, sometimes with the help of the Training Department, to determine which shortfalls are knowledge and/or skill based. In these cases training is made available to correct the shortfall, with a previously agreed upon metric for measuring the effectiveness of the training. The focus is on helping the craft to be successful, not on punishing them for when there is a problem.

  • Nagaraj T

    In my opinion First we must analyze wether it is a situation or an issue.
    2ndly the work station alloted to an employee. we must focus on Ergonomics.

  • There are indicators of employee problems that are obvious and many times more subtle. They are usually more subtle when they are starting. Moral may be dropping, slowing of work may occur, smiles may be less, complaints may increase. It is the frontline manager that is key in this. These managers often are not trained in the coaching aspect of leading a team. Part of this is staying in touch with the individuals of the team. Or knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each member. This manager must keep the pulse of the team and this takes checking in. Training is crucial for thiese managers because they are the foundations of the frontline teams.

    It is about becoming what the customer needs and wants while supporting the team.

  • Michael J. Spangle

    Liz,
    You are directly on target with your comments. In the Nuclear world, at least in the U.S., Managers are trained in behavioral observation. Much of this is driven by the Fitness for Duty requirements established by Federal law. It takes a skilled Manager, though, to pick up on the changing dynamics of a group, rather than just a single individual. It takes even greater skill to refocus away from “What are the people doing wrong?” to “How can I help them to succeed in doing what is right?”

  • Thanks Michael and I love that you say go after what is right. We must involve the employees, a true team, with a coach as the leader. It should be about brining out the potential in each individual and asking for creativity. Now this does not mean that accountability should be out aside, not at all. There should be high expectations for each person because success is what should be gone after. Success in customer satisfaction. But it does mean that the team is important and the team and the individuals matter. In my trainings this is the emphasis.

    Employee disengagement costs billions every year. It is time to put the training and support to the frontline managers and the employees they serve. And the training needs to be practiced because if not almost 70% of it is lost if not implemented. It needs to be about bringing out potential.

  • Michael J. Spangle

    A very wise Training Manager once told me that the Instructors most important task was to help Line Mangement identify the optimum method for improving performance. This tells me that the Line HAS to own training. It also tells me that the Line (at all levels, not just Management) has to be an integral part of the training process. If we expect the trainee to “buy into” the training that we give them then we MUST make them a part of the process. Being, as I am, a big fan of the ADDIE method, I see a great potential for employee engagement in both the training itself AND the performance improvement it is intended to bring about.

  • You make good points Michael. The “buy in” is something that has been talked about for years. Much like saying “take ownership”. One of the things that I believe is missing — is why would employees take ownership or buy in? What is in that for them? Humans have needs which is something that often is put aside in business. It is the part that cannot be bought. Feeling valuable and necessary. Did you ever hear —“if you dont’t like it then there’s the door”? That is so counter-productive. If I am being trained – how will that benefit me? Sure it can benefit the company, we all have a job to do, but also how does it make me better? This is also part of training.

  • Michael J. Spangle

    Liz,
    I have given your questions a great deal of thought. As those involved in Training, it is far too easy for us to assume that there is a 100% correspondence between benefit to company and benefit to employee. While there can be significant overlap between the two they are rarely, if ever, completely the same. I think then that “buy-in” and “ownership” has to be presented on two levels. One is “This is the benefit to the company” and two, “This is the benefit to you”. By honestly acknowledging the existence of both and laying them out on the table, we can increase the odds of both being embraced by both Line Management and the rank-and-file workers.

    This, however, requires giving thought to exactly what ARE the benefits to each group, where do they overlap, and where do they differ. It is this process that is all too rarely implimented.

  • Yes Michael it is rarely thought about though I think companies have tried with good intention to get it thought about. That is why my attention has gone to the frontline managers. There needs to be an acknowledgement of their importance. These managers are the ones that support the frontline but often do not get the training to do this fully. Things like how to address employee concerns, emotions, and even performance problems. It is my belief that if companies directed attention here showing how to engage employees, many of the problems would be resolved.

    You make the point of acknowledging both. Both the employees and the company. The only way to do that I am convinced, is through the frontline manager.